David Wotherspoon’s first call-up to the Canadian men’s national team has been two years in the making. That’s when the Perth, Scotland-born midfielder first made his intentions to play for les rouges known and thus started a long series of applications and paperwork.
Wotherspoon, who represented Scotland at the youth level, qualified to play for Canada through his mother, who was born in the country. He didn’t really think much of it, however, until he heard the story of Scott Arfield who had made the switch from Scotland to Canada himself.
The 28-year-old Wotherspoon, who plays for St. Johnstone in the Scottish Premier League, chatted with Arfield about his switch. That conversation is a big reason why Wotherspoon now finds himself in Murcia, Spain as part of his first Canada camp ahead of a friendly on Saturday against New Zealand.
“[He said] everyone involved is moving in the right direction and it’s a great place, a great country and great people,” Wotherspoon tells Waking the Red. “It’s opened up more opportunities for him and it’s a chance to see a lot of the world as well. I’ve been stuck in Scotland my whole life so it would be nice to get across to Canada to visit it, I’ve always wanted to.”
Wotherspoon sees playing for Canada as a chance to write a new chapter in his career. It’s a sentiment that will ring true throughout camp this week as the national team itself looks to begin a new era under John Herdman.
It has only been a couple of days since players arrived in camp, but Wotherspoon says Herdman has already gone to work imparting his vision for the future of the team on his players.
“He’s very passionate, he knows what he wants from the team and it is definitely coming across,” said Wotherspoon. “Everyone is getting very excited by the ideas and the message that he is bringing across and everyone’s sort of buying into it and getting used to it.”
Aside from a new coach, Wotherspoon has also spent the week getting to know his new teammates. He said initially it was a bit nerve wracking having to step into a new environment but he’s taken to it quickly.
“[My teammates] arrived at different times so that’s kind of been a good thing for me, I didn’t get chucked straight in there,” Wotherspoon said. “I got to know a few of them at the start of the week, then a few more arrived, then a few more.”
He got an initial look at a number of his future national team when Canada played Scotland to 1-1 draw last March.
“There’s a lot of talented footballers involved,” said Wotherspoon. “I got a chance to see that when they came to Scotland and played against Scotland I came to the game. It was brilliant, I was very impressed with the abilities.”
A lot has changed in the year since that match, and as Canada looks to begin a new era Wotherspoon is one of the players who wants to help make it a successful one.
“I feel like I bring a lot of creativity, hard work” he says. “I’m a bit older now and I’ve played a lot of games and I’ll bring a wee bit of experience to the squad. We are looking at team spirit and that’s what I’ll try to help with.”
Between his time at Hibs and St. Johnstone he has over 300 games of SPL experience. On a national team where having players who play regular minutes with their club isn’t a guarantee, that is a huge bonus.
However, there is one game in particular that Wotherspoon now has his focus on: Saturday against New Zealand. He would love nothing more than to end his first national team camp with his first cap for Canada.
“It would mean a lot to me, it has been a long journey to get here,” says Wotherspoon of playing his first match for Canada. “At the end of the day I would make my family proud as well because my mom was born there and my grandparents lived there so I think it would be a great achievement and one that I’d be very proud of.”